If there’s one thing that’s better than being a brunchin’ Bitch, it’s being a brunchin’ Birthday Bitch. While some people will tell you that birthdays get less important with age, they are clearly unhappy curmudgeons. There should always be something to celebrate in the year behind and the year ahead, regardless of your stage in life.
I always use a birthday, mine or anyone else’s, as an excuse to get the gang together and spend some quality time. After all, if you plan a dinner on your birthday, your half-birthday, or your dog’s birthday, your friend would be a total bitch to bail. (Note: there is a massive difference between a bitch and a Bitch).
My birthday is often overshadowed my the Fourth of July. Or, put another way, people light off fireworks in my honor two days early. Same difference, and we Bitches love champagne and anything that sparkles.
This year, my gal pals from New York and the District celebrated July 4 BBQing on a rooftop pool, then four of us headed down South for a calm, relaxing getaway in Charlottesville. Beyond my birthday, we all had different agendas: one wanted to catch up on sleep, one wanted to catch up on exercise, another wanted to catch up with a cousin in the area and the last just wanted to finish the book she’d been reading for a month.
We stayed at the Boar’s Head Inn, an enormous hotel and resort with a Southern feel and rich history that’s owned by the University of Virginia’s historical society.
The Inn is perfect for friends and families of all ages, as there are all types of activities and fun to be had: fine and casual dining, spa, three pools, golf, tennis, squash, yoga and gym classes, a fitness center, fishing, hot air ballooning, canoeing, and more. Yes, Boar’s Head has the supplies you need to do all of these funtivities, and more.
The Inn itself is spread out and charming, with lots of nature, lakes, and plenty of running trails. Although it was mighty hot, the Inn was serene and relaxing and provided a perfect respite from the city.
On Friday, we had a leisurely afternoon followed by a lovely dinner outside on the patio at the casual Bistro 1834 bar and grille. We had a bottle of rosé from Jefferson’s Monticello vineyard (when in Charlottesville) and enjoyed yummy appetizers and enormous salads. The big hits were the niçoise salad (we ended up ordering two), and the truffled hummus (Uhm, yum). Then, we were off for cocktails at charming restaurant with a hidden back patio, C&O Restaurant, which I highly recommend for cocktails. I intend to go back for dinner, too.
Saturday, the 27th anniversary of my birth, was filled with all of my favorite things. We slept late, got coffee, went to yoga, laid by one-of-three pools with our books, had a private tennis lesson with the amazing pro at Boar’s Head, got smoothies, then checked out a couple vineyards. We rounded out the evening with Spanish tapas, followed by wine at a rooftop bar. Yes, quite literally all of my favorite things.
As for vineyards, we checked out King Family Vineyard, which is one of the more popular spots. It was great, the views were stunning and the wine was yummy, but it closed so early. So, we headed to Trump Winery (Yes, that Trump), one of the only vineyards open past 5 p.m.. I was surprisingly impressed with Trump’s vineyard: the champagne was delicious (and affordable), inspired by the French Champagne and planted in Chardonnay grapes. The view at King Family is much-talked-about, but I found Trump’s vineyard to have the most stunning view. Looking over the forested, rolling mountains of the Shenandoah as the sun set was truly breathtaking.
For dinner, we went to Mas Tapas in the edgy, up-and-coming Belmont neighborhood. The Spanish spot has a killer patio, that, on this summer evening, was filled with people of all ages sipping sangria, often with pups and toddlers in tow. The two-level restaurant was filled to the brim and, once we got a table, we naturally ordered pitchers of sangria. The traditional tapas were delicious, and we were astounded by the low prices, experiencing somewhat of a City girl reverse sticker shock.
We closed the weekend with another of my favorite things, Sunday brunch, in the Old Mill Room at the Boar’s Head. Brunch at the Boar’s Head is a traditional, formal affair, akin to the Sunday brunches held at country clubs and places like the Four Season on Mother’s Day.
The ambiance is formal: the buffet is located in the historical Old Mill Room, which is built from the timbers of an abandoned gristmill along the banks of the Hardware River, dating back to 1834. The Mill survived burning despite the orders of Generals Grant and Custer during their march through Charlottesville during the Civil War, and was later relocated to the Boars Head for its preservation.
In the center of the room, is the buffet, with multiple tables decorated with enormous flower arrangements and filled with traditional enormous silver serving dishes. The buffet contained all the key elements of a Southern brunch: traditional ham Eggs Benedict, French toast, grits, eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, and much more.
There was also a dessert table, as well as a lovely salad table that piqued our interests. The salads were filled with lots of fresh, local veggies. There was a spinach, sun-dried tomato cold tortellini salad that was delicious.
There was also a Greek salad with fresh cucumber, tomato, red onion, and Kalamata olive salad, which was a crowd pleaser.
The yummiest salad, in our opinion, was the gigante bean salad with fresh kale, peppers, and artichokes. I loved it.
There was, as to be expected, a fellow whipping up made-to-order Belgian waffles and omelet. Alas, I wanted pancakes and this chap was not willing to make an exception. #Bitchproblems.
Next to the made-to-order table was a separate table with the really good stuff: pecan sticky buns, cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit (pineapple, strawberries, grapes, blueberries), super fresh salmon, bagels, and a toaster. When we arrived back at our table, it was clear we had all raided this table. “Between the four of us, we cleaned them out of all the fruit in the place,” remarked one Bitch.
We were told that Executive Chef Bill Justus works to maintain the Boar’s Head’s farm-to-table tradition by sourcing locally whenever possible, and this was evidenced by the fruits and veggies. The Southern cuisine was well-done, for the most part. The biscuits were a lot better than the pecan sticky buns, which were pretty dry.
As birthday calories don’t count, I went back for a waffle, which I loaded with butter, syrup, and whipped cream. (I can feel you judging me). It was just a normal waffle, like you’d find at a country club waffle station. I spent a significant number of my childhood Sundays in line at the country club waffle table, so, I certainly enjoyed it!
All in all, I was surprised and impressed with the Boars Head brunch. It was definitely on the highest end of the quality spectrum as far as buffets are concerned. The only other buffet I’ve ever enjoyed was the Four Seasons. There were some low points (Benedicts and pecan rolls should have been fresher). But overall there were several great dishes (kale salad, salmon). And, generally the run of the brunch (eggs, fruit, bacon, etc.) satisfied this brunch bunch.
We actually didn’t sample any of the beautiful desserts, because the Boar’s Head brought out a beautiful birthday cake for yours truly. (They knew we were in town so this birthday brunch was on-the-house). It was a chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting on the outside but layers of light, fluffy peanut butter frosting within. This cake was one of the better birthday cakes I’ve had in my years (sorry, Mom) and as cake is my favorite food this was a home run on their behalf.
They boxed it up to go, and I had a slice a day for nearly a week after. And, as a result, I’m currently on a juice cleanse and suffering pangs of agonizing hunger as I stare at the Boar’s Head brunch photos. Again, #Bitchproblems.
The Bitches say: B+. Boar’s Head is a perfect getaway for the weekend, as you can be as active and engaged or relaxed and lazy as you’d like. The Inn is historically charming and the cuisine is reliable and traditional, while not quite gourmet.
The Boars Head Inn
200 Ednam Drive